Targeting tax crime: a whole-of government-approach – Wickenby, a lasting legacy
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Welcome to this special edition of Targeting tax crime magazine, where we reflect on Project Wickenby and see what the future of fighting tax crime will look like.
We are joined by our former Commissioner, Michael D’Ascenzo, for his unique reflections on the Wickenby journey, as well as our current Commissioner, Chris Jordan, who talks about how the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and partner agencies will deal with serious financial crime in the future.
From the beginning of Project Wickenby in 2006, we were breaking new ground. Government agencies, both within Australia and overseas, had never worked so closely – and so successfully – together before. International revenue agencies looked to us as a model for agencies joining forces for a greater result.
Advances in technology set a fast pace, and meant that the landscape in 2006 was vastly different to what we are faced with in 2015. For example, in 2006–07, industry submitted almost 16 million individual transaction reports to Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) for analysis. By the 2013–14 financial year, that number had increased to more than 91 million reports – a 479 per cent increase over seven years.
One of the achievements of Wickenby, the importance of which shouldn’t be underestimated, was the change in community attitudes to tax crime. Times have certainly changed from the days when you might have heard someone at the local pub bragging about how they managed to fool the tax man. Increasingly, we are seeing the community’s recognition of the tax system as a community asset. When someone doesn’t pay their tax, it may be to their own short term advantage, but it is to the detriment of the entire Australian community, and that’s not something to boast about.
In this edition, we will also take a look at the new Serious Financial Crime framework and the taskforces operating within it. The community should feel assured that although Project Wickenby is officially coming to a close, the good work is being carried forward, with new focus areas and taskforces to tackle current and emerging threats to the integrity of our tax system.
This edition of Targeting tax crime is also special because it is the final edition of the magazine in this current, PDF format. In future, we will be publishing articles relating to tax crime under a new ‘news & updates’ section of the taxmatters.gov.au site.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all our readers for their support over the years and encourage you to continue to take an interest in the government’s targeting of tax crime.
ATO Deputy Commissioner
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